29 Jun 2011

Four vying to become Federated Farmers president

11:03 am on 29 June 2011

Federated Farmers says unprecedented interest in its top leadership positions shows it is in good heart as New Zealand's main advocacy body for farmers.

Southland farmer Don Nicolson ends his three-year term as president this week at the federation's national conference which starts in Rotorua on Wednesday.

There are four contenders for the job - the most there has ever been - and there is a three-way contest for the vice-president role.

It is the first contested election for the national president since the 1990s.

Vice-president, South Island high country farmer Donald Aubrey, is one of the contenders, along with Canterbury farmer Frank Brenmuhl, whom he displaced in that role two years ago.

Other presidential hopefuls are the federation's dairy chair Lachlan McKenzie and meat and fibre chair Bruce Wills - both of whom are also ending their three-year terms.

Federated Farmers chief executive Conor English says the high level of interest in the top jobs shows farmer representatives are keen to continue the momentum the organisation has built up.

Mr English says membership, which has been flat since peaking in 2003, has also increased this year. It now has about 27,000 paid up members.

Delegates will vote for a new president, vice-president and two national board members on Friday.